My Five Days in the Tarkine Forest

I am back in Launceston having completed the second of my two back to back photo workshops in Tasmania. We left last Saturday and the whole six hour journey to Corinna was in drizzling rain. Corinna is at the southern edge of the Tarkine Wllderness which has the highest annual rainfall in the state. We were concerned that the rain might be an omen for a cold and wet time, but the weather cleared by the next morning and we had four days of good weather to explore and photograph this remote area.

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Corinna is a very isolated, old gold mining settlement on the west coast of Tasmania. The locality was originally known as Royerine. The town of Corinna was proclaimed in 1894, and the locality was officially gazetted in 1959. I believe that Corinna (kurina) is the Aboriginal name for the Pieman River. The village  is nothing more than a hotel and some holiday cottages although a few old buildings such as the original hotel and butchers shop remain. It is located approximately 18 km from the mouth of the Pieman River and is surrounded by some of the most dense temperate rainforest anywhere in Australia. 

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There is an argument, with some small level of plausibility, that the Pieman River  (which can be crossed on a barge at Corinna) is named after a pastrycook, Thomas Kent of Southhampton, who was transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1816 and nicknamed “The Pieman”. A more plausible explanation is that it was named after Alexander Pearce, an escaped convict who because of his repeated cannibalism, became known as “The Pieman”.

At this time of year, there is a lovely mist that covers the river in the morning. It  has a wonderful atmosphere of calm and stillness. It creates a very unique feeling to be in such a remote place. There are many places along the river where the calm waters provide mirror-like reflections.

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Sailing on the river is the Arcadia II, a huon pine vessel built in 1939. It was a cruise vessel on Macquarie Harbour from 1961 until it moved to the Pieman River in 1970. It is reputedly the only huon pine river cruiser in operation anywhere in the world.

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The cruise gave us a unique opportunity to see the mouth of the Pieman River. There is a lagoon behind the sandbar and an enormous number of logs hat have been washed down the river and deposited on the sandy beach.

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As I said, there are superb reflections in the very still waters of the river and some of these were stunning, especially where the sun’s light was illuminating the trees.

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After our cruise, we spent some time back in the forest by the river photographing the fungi that was flourishing. Apparently, it has been very dry in this area over summer and fungi needs moisture to grow. Fortunately, there has been plenty of rain over the last few weeks and this has been enough for the fungi to develop.

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We stayed in separate cottages at Corinna. Mine was very comfortable with a big bed, lounge and smalll kitchen. The back window looked out into the forest with its dense foliage and a vast variety of greens.

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On our third day, we spent most of the morning in the area of Middleton Creek, a little stream that flowed through the rainforest. It was a very quiet and peaceful place with logs and trees tumps covered in bright green moss.

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There was a great variety of fungi growing in the area. Some were similar to those that we had seen near Cradle Mountain and others were quite different. They required an ‘Eagle Eye’ to spot them as there were generally very tiny, or otherwise camouflaged in the leaf litter on the forest floor.

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We were back at the hotel for lunch and afterwards, we had a critique session, viewing everyone’s photos and getting critique on things like exposure, composition and technique.

At the end of the day, we drove up to a flat area on Norfolk Road for some sunset shots. I thought that the photos that I took of Mt Donaldson before sunset were actually nicer images than those that I took as the sun was setting.

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On our fourth day, we did another morning cruise that took us down the Pieman River and a short way up the Donaldson River. Again, the  mist created a wonderful atmosphere and the reflections were beautiful.. 

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Our boat skipper, Rob, spent far more time with us than originally planned and he had a good knowledge of when to stop, or slow down the boat, for a group of photographers. One of the more exciting sights was to see a sea eagle perched in tree. It sat still for a couple of minutes, allowing us to get to good images before it flew away

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Our final stop on this cruise was at Lovers Falls on the Pieman River. This is a very pretty waterfall encased within lush forest with a fall of approximately 40 metres. The falls can only be reached by boat and then accessed via a wooden boardwalk on the northern side of the river.

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In the afternoon, we spent some time in the forest near the Savage River. The track to the peak of Mt Donaldson starts from here but we spent most of our time in the forest near the river.

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Again, this was typical forest of the Tarkine Region – a huge area of temperate rainforest and coastal heathland with strong links to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people. Although not designated as a national park, the area contains a wildly diverse landscape including Australia’s largest patch of temperate rainforest. It is a world of natural beauty including mountain ranges, wild river and cave systems, button grass moorlands, and a rugged coastline with long sandy  beaches, grassy woodland and coastal heath.

The plant and animal life here is as rich and varied as the many habitats that support them. Local species include the platypus, echidna, wombat, bandicoot, possum and glider – not to mention the famous Tasmanian devil and the state’s other predators, the spotted-tailed quoll and eastern quoll.

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We were intrigued with the many motor cyclists that drove along the road and over the Savage River Bridge. They were participants in a large event conducted by BMW Moto Rad that took hundreds of BMW enthusiasts on a ride more than 2000 kilometres through Tasmania.

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Today, our last day before returning to Launceston, we spent nearly two hours in the forest with a walk to see Philosophers Falls. To get there, you walk through one of the most beautiful forest areas that I have seen. Lush Myrtle Beech trees and ferns cover the ground. Most of them are covered in a green moss like carpet.

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Some oil the walk follows an old mining water race. The falls are named after ‘Philosopher Smith’ who was famous for opening ups this area. James ‘Philosopher’ Smith, was a prospector and mining investor. He sparked Tasmania’s mining industry, which invigorated its economy and widened its economic and political base. He was largely self-educated, from humble circumstances with the stigma of convict parentage. He probably spurred his determination to prove himself by emulating contemporary heroes like the missionary explorer David Livingstone.

I only made it to the lookout at the top of the falls. I would have liked to have continued further along the walking track to get to see the falls from the river level, but I just ran out of time. As it was, I was the last person back to the mini bus and I could easily have spent another few hours in the area.

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After returning to our mini  bus, we were back on the road and after a few short stops along the way, we arrived at our overnight hotel in Launceston at 4.00 pm.

I thoroughly enjoyed these  two 5 day photographic workshops. They took me to some fabulously scenic places and I could spend my time with like-minded people who enjoyed photographing nature. It was nice to be able to take our time to create some good images.

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “My Five Days in the Tarkine Forest

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed your usual expansive, informative commentary. Food for your photographic soul.
    Congrats for your wonderful pics. Tony

  2. Xlnt narrative and some truly great shots, partic’y of the Pieman River. Admire your stamina. well done.

  3. Brilliant description thanks Bruce as one of the most interesting places on our planet.

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